Saving a Southwestern Archive

$7,385 of $50,000 goal

Raised by 65 people in 42 months

The above photographs show the designer and master mind for the Chicago and Saint Louis World's Fair. H. Jay  Smith. The building of Battle Rock Mtn and some of the activities at the fair.
The construction of the Cliff dwellers exhibit at the Saint Louis World's fair has eluded us for a long time but here is one of the few photographs found of that exhibt.

Thank John Richardson for his dexterity in maneuvering through ebay.

John Fremont signature initials from Pipestone National Monument while on the Nicolette Expedtion
Winter on Highway 145 1956 Fred Blackburn on hood

The H. Jay Smith  Exploring Expedition of Battle Rock Mountain in Chicago 1893. Fournier paintings and Wetherill Artifacts. 

Broken Flute Cave Pithouse before excavation. Bernheimer 1930

Fred Blackburn and Vivian Stanley our mentor and host in Northwestern Arizona

Jefferson County Open School Documenting Northeastern Arizona

Ajax slide after hitting the Idarado Mill in Telluride 1958 Walt Honeycutt and Jack Pera in photograph

Jefferson County Open School at Harvard, documenting the Kidder and Guernsey discoveries in Marsh Pass Arizona

San Miguel first settlement at Telluride Winter 1949
1930's Sheep Herder Dendroglyph Stoner Mesa. Fewer and Fewer remain because of climate change. 

Navajo Petroglyph Arizona. 

The view from the Window documenting inscription in site northwestern Arizona
My name is Fred Blackburn.  The past 35 years I have been documenting historic inscriptions [Grafitti] in the southwest, primarily with high school youth from Jefferson County Open School in Lakewood Colorado.

We have been co-permit holders of an archaeological permit to document historic inscriptions and interview elders on the Navajo Reservation.

The purpose of which enables us to follow the routes of early expeditions. Expeditions include first archaeological, Spanish and military expeditions to the southwest.

I have been privileged to have written three books from the information gained from research on these efforts: Cowboys and Cave Dwellers, co-authored with Dr. Ray Williamson, published by the School of American Research in 1997; The Wetherill’s Friends of Mesa Verde, published by the Durango Herald Small Press in 2007, as a gift to the Centennial effort of Mesa Verde and National Park. The same year I completed the text for a coffee table photography book by Klaus Mrocynski entitled “Sacred Places of the Southwest”. I have published numerous monographs and gray papers in addition.

Two portions of the years of research have been funded. The Wetherill/Grand Gulch partially through private donors and a second as part of the Save Americas Treasures Grant at Mesa Verde National Park.

Our method of research is now termed “Reverse Archaeology” defined as: “The linking of items in museums with their original homes” and in conjunction with the National Park Service developing the methodology for the documentation of Historic Inscriptions.

I have not been funded or associated with any university through my entire research career and now find that my aging is limiting how much time I have left to complete the many writing tasks remaining, as well as find and fund the transfer of 1000’s of documents to a proper research facility. Working to provide the bills is now detracting from completing a life-long work to record.

I will require your help in making this happen.

Donors will be kept informed of my progress.  

The following projects are in limbo at the moment. Some writing and research has been completed on all but much editing and input is needed to make them a quality and accurate presentation.

1. Write up [Potential Book or Books] of our work in Prayer Rock. This was an eleven-year project with multiple themes and is the most complex venture to attack. [Portions Publishable especially with Reverse Archaeology] Four preliminary chapters are complete and a book proposal is in process. DRAFT OF BOOK PROPOSAL IN PROGRESS

2. Sniders Well/Yucca House publication is complete to start a second draft of writing. The slide show has provided the basis for the outline. A full report and possible publication is under negotiation with the possible co-authorship of an archaeological treatise by Donna Glowacki.

3. Archive preservation, documentation and digitizing of historic photographs include H.J. Smith exploring expedition, Hayden Survey, History of Ophir and Telluride, World Columbian Exposition at Chicago and Saint Louis. Gifts from work completed with John Richardson of Southern Illinois University. Digitizing and organization of historic photographs stored on computer. PREPERATION AND METHODOLOGY FOR ARCHIVAL QUALITY BEING ESTABLISHED

4. Writing Projects to meet permit requirements from the Navajo Tribe [Some of these projects contain too much sensitive information to publish and will only be presented to the Navajo Historical Cultural Preservation Department as per our permit agreement with Windowrock] Includes: Analyses and research of inscriptions documented at: Long House in Long House Valley, Marsh Pass, Bubbling Springs, Upper Long Canyon, Keet Seel Canyon. Research is completed with an analyses of inscriptions, expeditions and archaeological sites yet to be completed.

5. Completion of the transcriptions of the Kidder and Guernsey Journals [Owe this project to Harvard [14 volumes] [Publishable] Final edits on the last of the volumes remain as needed for completion and sent to Harvard, and usable for final research in Marsh Pass, Long House Valley.  COMPLETED

6. Inscription History of Mancos Canyon and The Ute Mountain Tribal Park. [Early data gathering into a very rough publication that has been utilized in several publications, but a thoroughly edited version never completed.

7. Organization of all archives in preparation for archival storage in as yet an undefined institution[s].

Monument Valley mittens 1955
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The summer has been with fire, heat, smoke and a kitchen remodel. The work on archives ground to a halt with a major renovation much needed.

We have, however, began the scanning process of slides and turned over the first batch of sides to the Center for Southwest Studies. So a few boxes have left the building at last. Primarily Purgatory and Durango events .

We will continue this winter when all of the dust covers can be removed and once again resort the items, follow up with three museums on what they wish to archives.

Thanks to your generous help and support we have adequate acid free containers to nearly complete what we have currently.

Will present all of you with a more detailed report in December. Let us all hope for snow.

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A few updates and a request for information are part of this update.

The Wright World War II Museum in Wolfboro, New Hampshire has expressed an interest in the World War II photographs. We will continue to work with them on a donation to their research archive.

The Chaco photographs, thanks to all who helped with this, appear to show the excavation of Chetro Ketl and a fourth of July celebration at the old Wetherill Trading post. We thank Joan Mathien for her help in identifying all of these and we hope to provide the archive with these negatives.

The first batch of photographs to be digitized [150] will be going to Denver for archival scanning. They include donation material to Edge of the Cedars and the Telluride museum. These will take time as we organize and prioritize them as they will expense at $.65 per slide. They will be placed in individual folders on a hard drive so that Jump Drives can be easily created to go to the various institutional archives. We expect around 6,000 slides and negative prints to be processed this way.

Now for the question. Our Jefferson County Open School Spring just completed a documentation trip to the Tseyi Canyon below the confluences of Dowizhibetoh, Betatakin, and Long Canyons. The windgate in this region is friable and not holding inscriptions. NA numbers are painted in large White Letters in a few of the Cliff Dwellings, but our question is: Are there any documented reports of the numerous cultural sites that were built along the banks of Tsegi Canyon and are there any recorded Navajo Uses of that area. We have been able to gain some oral histories for the Navajo Use of the area, but need to know more of who and when recorded surface sites along the valley floor.

Any guidance would be appreciated.
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Thanks to Carla Van West, and Laurie Webster, we have contacted Joan Mathien regarding the identification of individuals of the 1931 excavation of Chetro Ketl by Edgar Hewett and the archaeologist of Colorado College. Attached below are several of the better photographs for your review. Chuck Haspells finished the scanning of the negatives and we made prints of the 58 photographs.

We will be a while yet completing labeling and archiving enjoy a view of a few of the photographs.

Any comments or additions will be appreciated
Chaco Trading Post
Navajo's to the chaco gathering
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Dear folks,
must be spring as rabbit trails are appearing in the archives. We completed the scanning, documentation, and archiving of the 158 world war II photographs just to have Jim Colleran appear with 58 2 1/4 and 3 1/4 negatives taken during excavations at Chetro Ketl, and Pueblo del Arroyo??? during the 1930's. I would appreciate any help in identifying who was excavating in Chaco during this time period. Victoria believes it was UNM. There are numerous wonderful photographs of the Dine' people, including with covered wagons. At least two of the photographs show the Wetherill trading post in the background. Chuck and I will be attempting to scan the negatives and post the prints.

Here is the invormation on envelopes from the potential photographer and where they were developed. I suspect with no proof the person who took these photographs may have been on the periphery of the excavations.

Believed donor:
Sheila McMahon
4650 central ave
Riverside, California

Believed photographer????
Alice Leinau
box 836
riverside, california

photographs developed by
Hanna and Hanna, Inc.
Albuquerque New Mexico
Kodak finishing specialists
expert commercial photographers

The developing appears to have been done for Alice Leinau

Anyone who can shed light on this information please contact me.

Slides are also being sorted and labeled preparing for preparation and prioritizing for mass scanning. They are including many memories of guiding, early Telluride History and of course the many years of work in southeastern Utah.

after digitizing these slides will be going to Telluride, Durango, and the majority to Edge of the Cedars. We continue to work with Edge of the Cedars on a donation agreement.

I hope I am not day dreaming as to the importance of the collection.

Once digitized and scanned I will be reworking the website for a detailed new set of photographs as they come to life.

Mean while thank you all for your support and information. I hope sharing this with you all will lead to where you can use them for your future research efforts.

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Read a Previous Update
Bill Harris
42 months ago

I have known Fred since 1984, and have shared many unique experiences with him, and his band of citizen researchers. His work is a critical link to our past, and what we love about the Southwest. As a side note to highlight the my high regard for Fred's work, my Facebook profile photo was taken in 1989 near Redman Cave in Grand Gulch on one of our inscription recording expeditions.

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$7,385 of $50,000 goal

Raised by 65 people in 42 months
Created June 11, 2015
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10 months ago
Adrienne and Walt Whatley
12 months ago

Keep up the good work Fred!!

Ned Harper Janis Nowlin
16 months ago

Here's wishing your project well, Fred.

Bob Hibschman
17 months ago

Fred - Happy to contribute again to your important work.

17 months ago
Laurie Webster
17 months ago

Fred, you are giving these students a great experience! Keep up the good work!

Bill Harris
42 months ago

I have known Fred since 1984, and have shared many unique experiences with him, and his band of citizen researchers. His work is a critical link to our past, and what we love about the Southwest. As a side note to highlight the my high regard for Fred's work, my Facebook profile photo was taken in 1989 near Redman Cave in Grand Gulch on one of our inscription recording expeditions.

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